Sunshine In Sickness


   It should not be assumed that sunlight is, in itself, a cure for "disease." It is supplementary to other hygienic or nutritive factors--it is not a cure. It may be used in building health, in improving the nutrition of the body, but not as a therapeutic measure.

   The true lesson of all that has gone before is one of hygiene, not one of therapeutics. We will have learned our lesson well when we have eliminated smoke from our cities, blinds, shutters, shades, etc., from our windows, remedied the crowded, sunless sections of our cities, provided parks and playgrounds for our city children, equipped the roofs of all apartment buildings with sections for sun-bathing, provided free public sun-parks for the sexes of the cities, and learned to wear clothing that permits the sunlight to reach the body, or else, as suggested by Graham, go nude, except in the most inclement weather.

   Every woman is very careful to put her pot plants out into the sun--why not her children also? Sunlight is especially important to the growing, developing child. The offspring of undernourished and tubercular parents, or children of the scrofulous diathesis should have a superabundance of sunshine throughout their entire childhood. Scrofulous children particularly need sunshine; they are anemic little human flowers which will bloom properly only if transplanted from dark, damp, tenements to sunny sections.

   The great influence of sunshine upon the development of the bones has been previously shown. Graham spoke truly when he declared: "If man were always to go entirely naked, the bones would be less liable to disease and distortion."

   Cartilage is transformed into bone when the calcium and phosphorus salts are properly utilized by it. Only through the aid of sunshine, particularly the ultra-violet rays, may the laying down and fixation of phosphorus and calcium be accomplished in an ideal way.

   Dr. W. T. Bowie, Professor of Biophysics, Harvard, gathered statistics which show that about ninety-seven per cent of all the babies born in our northern cities are afflicted, to a greater or lesser extent, with rickets.

   Dr. Bowie raised two flocks of chickens in a green house. Both flocks were fed the same food, given the same space in which to run about, both wallowed in the same dust and scratched the same gravel. Their conditions of life were identical, except for the fact that one flock was exposed for fifteen minutes a day to the ultra-violet rays of the quartz lamp. Seventy-five per cent of those not receiving the light died of "weak legs" (rickets), while the survivors were by no means normal. All those treated by the ultra-violet rays, except a few killed by rats, lived. These latter were larger and more vigorous than those raised under the glass of the green house, but which received no ultra-violet light. Ordinary glass does not permit the ultra-violet rays to pass through. Basking in the warmth and light of the sun that passes through the window pane is of small value in the prevention of "disease" or the restoration of health. The unfiltered rays of the sun alone are capable of assisting the work of metabolism.

   The evidence is clear from animal experiment and human experience that if a child receives an abundance of sunlight it will thrive on almost any kind of diet, whereas, if you deprive it of sunlight, it will not thrive well on the best of diets. Sunlight is one of the most important elements of the natural diet. Every child should have sunlight before birth and after birth. No "just-as-good" substitutes should be used. Despite the claims made for cod-liver oil, by the huge commercial enterprises built around this substance, it cannot take the place of sunshine.

   More than once I have taken children suffering from rickets, who were growing worse on cod-liver oil and quartz lamp treatment, and seen them begin immediately to make rapid improvement when orange juice was substituted for the cod-liver oil and sunshine displaced the lamplight. Rachitic bones are defective, mis-shapen, brittle and easily broken. They get this way due to a lack of sunshine.

   Rickets presents deficient calcification of the bones, with a tendency of the weakened bones to bend. Swelling occurs in the cartilaginous zones at the ends of the bones of the limbs, so that the joints become thickened. Globular swellings form on the ends of the ribs along the sternum, forming the so-called rachitic wreath. Permanent deformation of the bones and joints is the usual result.

   Sunlight causes an increase in calcification of the bones to set in immediately. Deformities are straightened and overcome. Sunlight is far superior to quartz light in this condition.

   On July 1, 1929 the United States Children's Bureau made public its figures which were held to show that lack of sunshine is the direct cause of rickets in children, and that lack of food or deficient food is not a contributing cause. These statistics, which are held to prove that the sun-bath alone will give immunity to juvenile bone "diseases," are the result of prolonged study of children in Porto Rico, where an abundance of sunshine wholly prevents rickets in badly undernourished children.

   Out of 584 children whose forearms were X-ray photographed, only one showed active rickets, and this child had always lived in an artificially lighted cellar. Of all the children examined, 68% were tanned by the sun; 88% lived in houses that permitted the free access of an abundance of sunshine; 10% lived in houses that admitted a fair amount of sunshine and only 2% lived in dark houses.

   H. B. Cushman, who was born among the Indians, of missionary parents, while they were still east of the Mississippi, and who went west with them when they were ruthlessly driven from their homelands, spending nearly seventy years among them, says in his History of the Choctaw, Chickasau and Natchez Indians, (1889) p. 246, that among the Choctaws, "deformity was almost unknown, proving that nature in the wild forest of the wilderness is true to her type." Again, "It is said of the Natchez, 'that the sight was never shocked by the appearance of deformity,' such as are so frequently observed among the white race; and with equal truth the same may be said of all the North American Indians."--p. 533. George Catlin tells us that "amongst two millions of these people" (Indians) he met with "very few cases of deformity."

   It is important in this connection, that we take account of the fact that there was no tuberculosis, anemia, leukemia, rickets, no hunch-backs, no bow-legs, no idiots or lunatics, no defective teeth, no deaf and dumb, and almost no deaths either of mother or child in child-birth, and few skin "diseases" among the Indians before the white man "civilized" them--that is, clothed them, gave them "firewater" to drink, cooped them up on reservations and taught them to eat white bread, salt-bacon, black coffee and sorghum molasses. Rickets and tuberculosis, like scurvy, should be regarded as "deficiency diseases," largely due to lack of sunlight. Rickets is said to be unknown in light-loving animals.

   Dark-skinned races do not absorb sunshine as rapidly as the lighter skinned peoples and, consequently, when housed, clothed and transplanted to regions where there is less sunshine, suffer more from light starvation than do the light-skinned races under the same limitations of exposure to sunlight. It requires more sun-shine to remedy rickets in negro than in Caucasian children.

   Although the following description by Trall, of the condition of certain sections of our city children was written a hundred years ago, it needs slight, if any, modification to fit many sections of the larger cities of today. He says: "Almost the entire population of our large cities, who occupy back rooms and rear buildings, where the sun never shines, and cellars and vaults below the level of the ground on the shaded side of narrow streets, is more or less diseased. Of those who do not die of acute diseases, a majority exhibit unmistakable marks of imperfect development and deficient vitality, and in fact, as with, animals and vegetables in like circumstances, often run into deformities and monstrosities, not more reproachfully, however, to those parents who propagate under such disadvantages, than disgraceful to the city, state or national government which either compels or permits any class of its citizens to live in such abodes."

   After due consideration of the influence of light in promoting the development of animals, Trall declared that the exposure of the whole surface of the body to light is favorable to symmetrical development and offered insolation in the open air as a means of preventing and remedying rickets and scrofulous conditions. Then he adds: "All persons in order to acquire and maintain the best condition of health and strength, should be frequently exposed to the light of the sun, except when oppressively hot. Children are generally maltreated, more especially in cities, in being kept almost entirely excluded from sunshine. Many good mothers are more fond of the delicate faces and pale complexions of their little ones, than intelligent in relation to their physiological welfare. A little sun-browning occasionally of their faces, necks, hands and feet, and, finally of their whole bodies, would not only render their development more perfect and enduring, but tend to the production of the greatest symmetry and beauty in manhood and womanhood. Parents should not be too careful in putting umbrella-hats and bonnet-sunshades on the heads of their children every time they run out of doors."

   Sunlight will prove a spring of renewed health for those who are ailing. In the mountains, at the seashore, or on the plains, the sun's rays are beneficial and meet the needs of plant and animal life. The number of sunny days during the year, even in northern countries, will permit utmost advantages to health if properly utilized. The Southern United States is far better endowed for sun baths than either Germany or Switzerland.

   Sunbathing is no panacea. It is only one of several vital factors in restoring and maintaining health, but it is of sufficient importance that it should never be neglected.

   Dr. Saleeby says: "The clinical evidence is clear that when the sunlight fails, as it not infrequently does at Lysen, the patients are injured, and that they prosper when it returns. The natural process of excretion of rubbish--such as a morsel of dead bone--may be observed to cease in obscure weather, and may be resumed when the process of insolation is again permitted by the atmospheric conditions." Such facts make it clear that sunlight is used in some more subtle and more fundamental manner than that of killing bacteria. This is further proved by the fact that it beneficially influences deep-seated local affections, when applied to the skin, and by its beneficial effects upon affections and wounds, which no one supposes to be due to germs.

   Although medical men do not employ sunlight in all conditions, as do Hygienists, they are coming more and more to see its value in many conditions in which formerly they did not consider it useful. When once they have grasped the fact that it is a hygienic and not a therapeutic method, and when they understand the unity of "disease," they will be better able to appreciate its universal use by Hygienists. Rollier's records, covering over twenty years include recoveries of extreme cases of spinal tuberculosis, with paralyzed lower limbs, etc., pulmonary tuberculosis included, rickets, many skin "diseases," varicose ulcers, many of these of long standing, war-wounds, non-healing operative wounds, osteomyelitis, bed sores, etc. We are informed that bronchitis, colds in the head and rheumatism do not develop at his place in Lysen, although germs must be plentiful.

   Cautiously applied, sunbathing is very valuable in nervous affections. It is invaluable in cases of glandular inactivity. Irregularities of ovulation, pubertal difficulties, impotency and other glandular difficulties are favorably affected by sunshine. Acne, representing disturbances of the glands of the skin, is quickly helped by the sun's rays. Psoriasis is also speedily improved by sun-bathing. Due to the effect of sunshine in increasing the coagulating power of the blood, sunbathing is of inestimable value to sufferers from uterine hemorrhage.

   Dr. James C. Jackson, observed that "persons who could not be made to sleep by administration of opiates in any of their various forms * * * are peculiarly good subjects for nervous sedation under sunlight; and that persons who are readily affected to sleep by the use of opium in one or other of its various forms * * *, do not readily go to sleep when lying down in the sun. I think it will be found true, as a general fact, that all persons who take opiates fall asleep better in darkened than in lightened rooms; and that persons who are made awake by the use of opiates go to sleep better in light or sunshine than in shaded or darkened rooms."

   Corpulent, anemic individuals have their weight decreased by sun-bathing, due to acceleration of the oxidation of fat, although most people gain weight. The unhealthy increase in fat so much sought after in tuberculosis is certainly not desirable. The sun-bath, by increasing oxidation, affords greater relief to the fat-burdened patient.

   All forms of tuberculosis are favorably influenced by sunlight. Bone, glandular and pulmonary tuberculosis each yield to the kindly influence of the rays of old Sol. The intense suffering endured by those with bone tuberculosis speedily stops under sun-bathing.

   Rollier, "discards meat, except very rarely, absolutely excludes alcohol, in all stages of all cases of tuberculosis, gives no cod-liver oil," and "detests and scrupulously avoids" "overfeeding, hitherto a cardinal principle in the therapeutics of tuberculosis." He condemns the cutting out of tubercular glands which form part of nature's first lines of defense. Indeed, Rollier has adopted the nature cure or Hygienic plan almost in its entirety and we naturally suspect him of having browsed among the books of the "quacks."

   The removal of tonsils, adenoids and scrofulous glands aggravates and does not help the tubercular condition. Surgical treatment for the diseased glands is very unwise.

   The sun's light is not a salve or an ointment. Great as are its effects, however, when applied locally, it cannot be made to suppress a local effect of a general or systemic condition. In London, in Aug. 1922, patients who had been given local light treatments, applied to the "diseased" areas, but who had failed to improve, were given general sun baths, without exposure of the "diseased" areas at all, and they all recovered rapidly. These results serve to further confirm the orthopathic premise that these local effects are secondary to the general effect and that all "treatment" must be constitutional. Those little quartz rods and tubes in the offices of the physio-therapists and physicians, for insertion into and treatment of the nose, throat, ear and other orifices of the body, are wrong in principle and failures in application.

   In some parts of the world, England, for example, the complaint is made that there is not sufficient sun. But these parts receive enough sun to supply the needs of plants and animals--why not enough for man? The statement that the temperate zone does not supply enough sunshine for man usually has a commercial basis. It comes from those who exploit lamps. So-called primitive races the world over, the present-day Canadians and the plants and animals in the temperate regions, prove that these regions do supply sufficient sunshine.

   While it is true that in the higher altitudes one receives more of the beneficial rays of the sun, it is also a fact that both plants and animals may receive sufficient of these at sea level or below sea level, to enable them to maintain health, growth and development, and to reproduce themselves. Indeed, there is no habitable part of the earth where there is not sufficient sunshine to supply the needs of man. Even the denizens of the jungle receive sufficient sunlight. Man in the jungle does likewise. It is the over-clad, over-housed, inhabitant of the smoky cities who is deprived of his fair share of the sun. Those who live in the modern caves that line the canyon walls of our modern cities and who dress in heavy, dark clothing, suffer most.

   In northern latitudes, when the sun is not always available in winter, it is wise to lay in an ample supply of sun-made reserves during the sunny seasons. Stored capacities and substances constitute the reserve power of an organism; power held out of activity under ordinary conditions and circumstances to be used under extraordinary conditions--acute crises, poisoning, prolonged or intense cold, prolonged or intense heat, prolonged periods of cloudiness, prolonged exertion, profound emotional experiences, shock, or other emergency and stress.

   The body does not store up sunshine. It stores up substances produced with the aid of sunshine. Not alone vitamin D, but other materials are synthesized in the body with the aid of the sun's rays, and the surpluses of these are stored in the tissues as reserve capital for times of stringency.

   If full and proper use is made of the sun during seasons of sunshine and warmth, and if the general mode of living is not such as to dissipate what should be stored as reserve, an abundance of sun-kissed reserves will be stored in the body to carry the individual through a long, sunless winter; provided, again, that the mode of living during the winter season is not of a kind that rapidly consumes these reserves.

   The man who has received no sunshine, who has stayed indoors or has clothed his body in a way to exclude the sun, and the man who has dissipated his reserves cannot go through the winter without suffering. The body that must ceaselessly use its substances in neutralizing, detoxicating, and resisting poisons--toxemia, alcohol, tobacco, coffee, drugs,--will not be able to store up ample reserves. All forms of excesses, dissipations, all overworking of the emotions, all lack of rest and sleep, etc., not only dissipate the reserves one already has, but prevent the accumulation of more. Reserves are wasted by a denatured diet, by sexual excesses, by overwork, and by any overtaxing of the body.

   The best preparation with which to meet long, cold, cloudy winters, is a sensible, natural mode of living during the warm, sunny months. The same sensible living should be continued through the winter; for, reserves that have been stored by the organism during a summer of prudent living may be quickly dissipated by excesses, indulgencies, dissipations and wrong foods in winter.